Shelley star Hywel Bennett has died, aged 73

Shelley star Hywel Bennett has died at the age of 73, his former agent has confirmed.

Best known for portraying James Shelley in the popular 1980s series, the Carmarthenshire-born star rose to fame in the 1960s, first appearing as Rynian in Doctor Who in 1965.

The next two decades saw him take on roles in shows Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Sweeney and Malice Aforethought, before becoming the familiar face of the hit sitcom that ran for five years from 1979. It made a four-year comeback in 1988 with The Return Of Shelley.

More recent viewers will recognise Bennett from his five-year stint as Peter Baxter in police drama The Bill, while soap fans will remember his 2003 appearance as gangland boss Jack Dalton in EastEnders.

After a long career in theatre and film, his last known role was as Reggie Conway in The Last Detective.

His stage debut in 1959 saw him play female lead Ophelia in Shakespeare's Hamlet, while his big screen credits include The Virgin Soldiers (1969), Anyone For Sex? (1973) A Mind To Kill (1991) and Nasty Neighbours (1999).

In 1970 he married TV presenter Cathy McGowan - now partner of singer Michael Ball - and the pair had a daughter together before separating in 1988.